Category Archives: Assyrtico

Jul 07 2016

Rave Reviews for Santorini’s Assyrtiko

Posted on July 07, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

“Among the World’s Great Whites”

Not sure about you, but a few years ago I’d never heard of Assyrtiko, the native white grape of Santorini? So I was intrigued to read that the Wine Advocate’s Mark Squires, no less, claims that as a category Assyrtikos are “among the world’s great whites.” He goes on to say that Assyrtiko is “simply brilliant, a high-upside white grape that works well in every incarnation: unoaked, oaked, Nykteri, monovarietals, blends (with Aidani and Athiri) and sweet (Vinsanto) versions.” (Greece: The Santorini Special by Mark Squires, eRobertParker.com, 30 October 2015)

And the reviews are just as good for Assyrtiko’s ageing prospects. According to Squire, “they have the structure to age far better than people think…I find it hard to believe, say, that a top level Assyrtiko from a good producer in a good year shouldn’t go (at least) a decade.”

Fortunately I’ve enjoyed some terrific Assyrtikos over the last couple of years. Top notch importers like David Lamb of Douglas Lamb Wines have helped to introduce Australians to Santorini’s best producers, and you’ll now find Assyrtiko on the wine lists of many of country’s top restaurants.

For a grape that hails from one of the hottest and driest wine regions in the world, Assyrtiko has a surprising level of acidity (hence, it’s impressive ageing potential) and a minerality that often invites comparisons with Chablis.

Gai'a ThalassitisOne of the best examples of dry assyrtiko, the Gai’a 2015 Thalassitis, is currently listed on the Cellarit Wine Market. Here’s Squires’ 92 point review:

The 2015 Thalassitis is Gai’a’s familiar, old-vines Assyrtiko, unoaked and without malolactic fermentation (as the winery points out, “due to the climate conditions of Santorini the wine contains no malic acid, thus no malolactic fermentation is required”). It comes in at just 12.9% alcohol. Read the rest

Apr 04 2015

Santorini’s Assyrtico: A wine that invites Chablis comparisons!

Posted on April 04, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

I’ve noticed that dry assyrtico, an aromatic white wine made from the indigenous grape of Santorini, often comes up in discussions about minerality in wine. This relatively unfamiliar Greek wine is mentioned alongside the legendary chardonnays of Chablis and the renowned rieslings of Mosel as a wonderful example of a wine that truly reflects the character of its unique terroir.

In fact The New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov noted that during a blind tasting reviewers frequently compared Santorini assyrtico with Chablis:

These wines in particular show pure briny, mineral flavors, as if they were the concentrated essence of millions of tiny seashells. Not once but several times during the blind tasting a comparison was made to Chablis, which cuts a similarly saline profile. (As Greek as the Sea by Eric Asimov, The New York Times 23 May 2013)

Assyrtico is Greece’s most iconic grape variety

Assyrtico is Greece’s most iconic grape variety. It thrives in the nutrient depleted, wind-swept volcanic soils of Santorini, an island southeast of mainland Greece in the Agean Sea.

santorini-assyrtiko-grapesSantorini is an unusual place to grow grapes. It’s actually dry enough to be classified as a desert and very windy. Over the centuries vineyard proprietors have developed novel methods to cope with the problematic conditions. The vines, for example, are trained to weave themselves into ground-hugging, basket-like shapes which act as a protective balls around the fruit. Interestingly, some of the best vintages occur in years when the weather is particularly windy. The wind brings much needed moisture from the sea to the grapes.

Greece is host to some of the oldest vines in Europe

Santorini vineyardSome assyrtico vines are up to 70 years of age and are grown on original root stocks that are more than 300 years old. Santorini’s sulphur-rich, porous soils … Read the rest